Meet the team: Spain’s Rio-bound recurvers
We spoke to them at official practice, with Juan doing most of the talking:
“Yeah, we’re feeling pretty good. We’re trying to survive the warm weather here! Denmark was warm, but we weren’t expecting this!”
“After Copenhagen we went back to Madrid and just trained for a few days. I think it’s safe to say all of us are keen on a medal here. It’s definitely possible. We’ve been doing great, it’s been a really good year as a team.”
Those results started in Shanghai, when the men’s team made the bronze medal match, and Miguel took an individual fourth place finish, but the strongest result of the year came at the European Games in Baku, when the men’s team took silver in an incredible gold medal match against the Ukraine which went down to a shoot-off.
Alvarino Garcia promptly followed the team result up by taking a first European Games Champion title, by beating Sjef van den Berg in the final, four days later.
Why did it come so good in Baku?
“I don’t know really, we’ve been working hard for nearly four years now, and finally it came. It was time for us, I guess!
We know each other really well now, trust each other. We work well. I think that’s the secret, that’s why it’s all come together this year.”
The confidence generated in Baku continued into the world championships in Copenhagen, where the Spanish men qualified in eighth position and had to face Germany for that crucial qualification match and a full team spot for Rio.
“Going in, we knew they were pretty tough, and it turned out to be that way. It ended up going to a shoot-off, which we won. Funnily enough, I was pretty tense during the match but when it came to the shoot-off, I was fine. I just focused on what I was doing. But as soon as we did it, it hit me. There was a lot of celebrating!”
Spain had not qualified a team quota in the archery at the Olympic Games since Barcelona 1992, where the Spanish recurve men won a shock gold medal on home soil.
“Even if we hadn’t won, Antonio would have picked up a quota place [after making the fourth round], so it was okay.”
“I like Copenhagen a lot. I would have liked it more if it didn’t rain so much! You have to take some risks in weather like that.”
How do you choose the team shooting order?
“Miguel goes first, then myself, then Antonio. It just felt right. We’ve changed it a few times, but it feels right now.”
Both Antonio and Juan are resident at the Archery Excellence Centre of Madrid, purposely designed to be the focus of Spanish archery at both regional and national level, and which is used by other top archers such as Aida Roman from Mexico.
“We’ve been there for nearly seven years!”
What other sports do you like – apart from football, obviously?
“For me is basketball. I started at the same time as I did archery. for about four years. But then it was only archery!”
Miguel: “I like fishing. I mostly take cipirones.” [Cipirones are a kind of squid!]
Antonio: “I do cross-country mountain biking when I can.”